Bhrayamaman: Theatre of Life
A classic scene seems to be drawing in people, young and old, to the classic culture of mobile theatres (Bhraymaman) in Assam. Mobile theatre have not only inspired, groomed and given way fr playwrights and actors to go on to do big movies, they are a sure shot way to keep the Assamese culture or performance alive while keeping the cash register ringing!
The Bhramyaman industry has been breaking records on the go and is constantly seen as being on the rise with new possibilities unfolding each day. The first group Nataraj Theatre founded by veteran theatre organizer Achyut Lahkar at Pathsala in 1963 paved the way for a multi-crore local entertainment industry in Assam.
The term "Bhramyaman theatre" was first used by Radhagovinda Baruah, a renowned social worker of the state.
Mobile theatre in Assam has a long heritage in the field of performing art. It refers to a full-fledged theatre company, about 150-180 strong, that travels with its own sets, actors, technicians, playwrights, props, costumes and even cooks. After almost six weeks of rigorous rehearsal, the companies travel to towns and villages across Upper and Lower Assam, staging plays attended by thousands of people from all age groups. Typically, they present three or four plays in a season and performances are always booked in advance. Despite having no financial assistance from corporate houses or sponsors, the 50-year-old Assamese mobile theatre has reached a milestone rare in Indian theatre history. An industry in itself having an annual turnover of more than Rs 10 crore,
mobile theatre companies have turned the fortune of many artists, and given the medium's popularity, the mobile theatre industry, it seems, will go a long way in the state.
Mobile theatre in the state is not just entertainment; neither is it just a replacement or a second choice; it is an essential medium for awareness; it is a platform for raising and starting a dialgogue on various social issues. And the best part is that it reaches a great many people, and therefore has a great impact on the viewers. From highly qualified spectators to illiterate villagers, all enjoy the performance of mobile theatre.
These larger than life productions remind people of the delight of action, and waves of life that come and go, and that essentially culture will stay with us, even if we want to depart.